Man says DPS billed him for no refusal blood test that he passed
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- On average, 53 people are arrested every week in Harris County for drunk driving and that number is on the rise. Not all of them are convicted and when Eyewitness News investigated one case, we found being free to go, doesn't come free of charge.
After four beers over four hours and with a big steak dinner in his belly, Jim Murphy set out from a nearby ice house for home not a mile away.
Minutes later a DPS trooper pulled him over and put him through a field sobriety test. He says he passed, but refused a breathalyzer and then was arrested.
"He handcuffed me, took me to the hospital and tried to draw blood. And I told them no," Murphy said.
A judge said yes and they got his blood.
"It took months and months to come in, but it came back at .04 -- way under the limit," said Murphy.
He was right. The test showed he wasn't intoxicated. But before the case was thrown out of court Murphy and his lawyer say they got a $60 bill from the DPS.
"That's the state wanting me to pay 60 bucks for using their needles and the vials... I think it's BS," Murphy told us.
"It's not the money, Ted, it's the idea they would have the nerve to ask someone to pay them back for the needles and vials for a person who wasn't intoxicated," said Tyler Flood, Murphy's attorney.
The attorney caught the bill and the judge never submitted it. He didn't have to pay. But just as important in this case is the no refusal test in the first place. Murphy's attorney says this case is proof judges order too many no refusal tests.
"It's too loose," Flood said.
The no refusal policy is now in effect every weekend, not just holidays. The tactic has become so popular, the District Attorney's Office recently asked the state for permission to destroy thousands of no refusal blood samples from old cases, saying they need space for more samples.
The DA defends no-refusal arrests. DWI arrests are way up. And even with his case dismissed Murphy's changed his behavior.
"It was a learning experience for sure," said Murphy.
The first no refusal weekend was done in Harris County in 2007. Here are the statistics since then -- arrests are up by 75 percent, and DWI related fatalities are down 56 percent in the same time.
The no refusal program started with just holiday weekends and expanded to every weekend in 2011.
in focus, ted oberg
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